Friday, September 13, 2013

Hunter's Remorse and Reward

I had a successful opening day of bow season. After changing stands a couple of times during the day I set up in the stand I had determined would be the best one for the evening hunt. The stand was a lock-on stand placed roughly 25 feet up the tree and only accessible by the climbing sticks attached to the trunk. The first limbs were just a few feet above my head allowing for a place to hang my bow and quiver along with the small pack I use when hunting from a stand.
Right at sunset, between five minutes prior to five minutes after I spotted the first deer I had seen all day. She exited the tree line of the swamp within a few feet of where I thought she would. She entered the natural clover opening and turned to her left. I noticed a slight limp in her stride. I had my bow in hand but did not risk notice of any movement until I could determine exactly where she was headed. She had a steady walk, somewhere between “I know exactly where I am going” to “I wonder where everybody is.” Since she was going from my left to right and I knew she would go by my stand I waited to draw when the tree I was in was between the two of us. Her pace was quick enough I did not have to hold the 70 pound pull of the Ben Pearson Stealth II but a few seconds before she was in a clear line of sight. I previously marked yardages with the rangefinder and decided if she did not slow down I would take the shot at the 20 yard mark while she moved.
As the thought was processed through my mind she hung a quick right, still passing by the stand. I made a small grunt and she paused, her front left foot still dangling in the air as she didn’t finish her step. I dropped the 10 yard pin from the Spot Hogg sight onto her middle right shoulder. Thwack.
Thirty minutes later I climbed down the stand and started the tracking. My two nephews helped in the process and it was not long before we found her some 50 yards in the swamp.
To say hunters have no heart or soul is a major misunderstanding. Upon finding her we noticed her left side was devoid of hair on about 25 percent of her body. While one nephew wondered if she may have had something like mange or some other disease, I recognized she had likely been hit by a car within the last couple of months. What she had was road rash. Her limp was also a result of the collision.
One thinks of the hard life she must have had. She was old enough where she had given birth before but there were no signs of fawns with her at this point. She was likely a 2 or 3 year old doe. And here I was the one that had ended her life.

I also understand as a hunter that in ending her life I have given her purpose. If she would not have survived the car collision she would have been left for flies and maggots and vultures. Instead she now provides food for a greater good. Instead of perishing from disease, starvation, or coyote attack because of her lack of mobility, she was laid down quickly and ethically.
Yes, we hunters do understand the cycle of life and death and predator and prey.

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